Jim O'Shea, the Times' reluctant editor, has moved to a Manhattan Beach condo and taken to commuting downtown via Lexus. He has done an LAPD ride-along in South Los Angeles and Rampart, and begun to learn a little about the region he covers. "I’ve been taking very long bike rides, which is a great way to see things," he tells the LA Weekly's Nikki Finke for tomorrow's column. “At first, Los Angeles was a culture shock. Chicago was so much more compact. This is different. It’s absolutely fascinating — the city of the future where we have to deal with multicultural/multilingual issues the world is going to face. I say to myself, ‘Holy cow, how do you cover it?’”
Hopefully that won't be remembered in history as his most eloquent observation about Los Angeles. O'Shea doesn't talk much about his plans for the paper, but does a little — and after the jump bristles at comments directed at the LAT by New York Times boss Bill Keller.
“There’s some pretty well-written stuff in the [LAT]. But my emphasis is on shorter articles,” O’Shea explained. “People don’t have a lot of time. So I’ve been saying to editors that we don’t work hard enough for readers. We need to give them the information up front and fast so they can make a decision about whether they want to read the story.”
On Tuesday, the NYT made a big freaking deal about what was a foregone conclusion: bringing back fired LAT editor Dean Baquet, this time as Washington bureau chief and assistant managing editor. It followed New York Times executive editor Bill Keller’s very public boast about how anyone at the LAT was his for the taking. (“[The Washington Post will] probably go hire all the good people from the L.A. Times... All the good people who are left after we’ve finished our own hiring.”) In reaction, new LAT editor Jim O’Shea angrily told me Tuesday he’s fed up with Keller
"Somebody sitting in New York isn’t a god of journalism. I personally don’t take shots at their paper. I don’t feel that enhances my stature as an editor. And, so, if someone feels that’s how they have to play big, then that’s their business,” said O’Shea. “But it’s posturing. He thinks I’m going to let them pick me off? I’m telling you right now I’m going to fight hard to keep everyone I’ve got. We’re just as good as the NYT. Believe me, working there isn’t a walk in the park, either.”...
“For all their sense of superiority, the New York Times Company’s problems with the Boston Globe are not unlike Tribune’s problems with the L.A. Times,” O’Shea retorted. “The only difference is that we still have the ownership situation uncertain. Until that’s clarified, I don’t know what the future holds. I should add, for the paper or for me.”
Finke says that O'Shea rejected the suggestion that he also oversee the editorial pages, the way it's done at the Chicago Tribune (where he came from) and was done at the LAT when John Carroll was editor.